We have just read the review of our MMG data base system in ANTIC (June, 1983), and found a number of factual errors:
1. The record size is 500, not 270.
2. Field size is 50, not 27.
3. We do have an excess field warning; you stated we did not.
4. Our review mode shows 10 fields on the screen, not three as you indicated.
5. We do have an auto page number; you indicated we did not.
6. You may use the reverse side of our disks. You indicated that our protection scheme prohibited that.
7. We were never contacted by anyone at ANTIC or by Ken Harms concerning our data base.
The name of our program is "MMG Data Manager", not "MMG File Manager" and we have enclosed a copy, so you can see for yourself the above points are valid. We respect the opinion of Mr. Harms, but frankly don't understand how he reviewed the program and missed so many critical points of fact.
MMG Micro Software
One big problem: we reviewed an older version of the product than the one now sold. New version supplied by MMG does allow 500-character records and 50-character fields. "Field-length warning," however, is just a dot (period) at end of line, and can be overrun with no further notice. All ten fields are now visible during "edit" mode, but now only one search criterion is supported. I assume auto-page numbering works, though I was unable to test it.
The reason the protection scheme prevents saves on the reverse of the disk is that you can't copy their master disk. You could save to reverse of the master if you were willing to punch the hole in the jacket (risking damage to the master), but I'm not. I did goof up the name--sorry about that.
MMG will ship a free copy of the new version to anyone who sends them the old one--a commendable policy.
Your new typesetting does make the programs very easy to read. However, it is difficult to determine the correct spacing for some Print commands. I usually type the program, RUN it, and then modify the spacing as needed. This is a little extra effort. But I have become used to the new format now, and the extra effort is worth it.
I must take exception to your criticism of the Data Perfect User Manual (Data Base Survey, June 1983). If the beginning user follows the well-written tutorial in the front of the manual, he/she will quickly become familiar with Data Perfect's major features. The rest of the manual is organized for occasional reference only, and is more than adequate for that purpose.
Fairfax Station, VA
Your ultrasound article (ANTIC #6) says that ATARI 400 owners can't make use of the cable without internal modifications. The problem seems to be the absence of a monitor output. Many of us would like to know how to adapt our 400 to drive a monitor.
You may already know about the XTRAVIDEO 1, a monitor output adapter for the 400. It is available from HARDSEL, PO Box 565, Metuchen, NJ 08840.
I have some questions about my 810 Disk Drive:
1. I've gotten into the habit of removing a disk as soon as the cursor returns to the screen, even though the busy light is still on. Is this OK?
2. Why does the Disk Drive keep spinning for a few seconds after the I/O operation is finished, while other computers shut off the drive immediately?
3. How do I adjust disk speed? Also, if it can be adjusted, why not set it to top speed, for faster I/O?
4. Does a micro-buffer exist for my drive?
Jackson Heights, NY
1. We find that it saves a significant amount of waiting time to remove a disk before the busy light goes out, and doesn't seem to harm the disk. First make sure that the I/O operation has been completed by listening to the monitor or TV speaker for the cessation of beeps (read) or clunks (write).
2. Atari built this feature into the Operating System to save time in case of sequential read operations. If several reads are made over the course of a few seconds, as is often the case with disk-based applications, the drive motor doesn't have to restart for every read, saving a significant amount of time.
3. We do not recommend that you adjust your drive's speed. Take it to an authorized repairman if a speed test indicates a significant difference from the factory-adjusted speed of 288 RPM. If the drive runs much faster or slower than this, you will probably have problems with disk access.
4. If, by a micro-buffer, you mean a device for your disk drive similar to those which are positioned between computer and printer to temporarily store text to be printed, the answer is no. The Happy 810 Enhancement adds a one-track (18 sectors) buffer which considerably reduces seek time, thus speeding up the disk read rate.
I'm writing a football drafting program that lists current NFL players for a paper football league that I run. As an example, consider a list of quarterbacks generated from the program's data. An owner in the league would look over the list, pick a player, and type in the player's name after an INPUT prompt. Now I want to erase that player's name from the screen and simultaneously add it to the drafting owner's roster.
Your suggestions are eagerly awaited by half of the San Francisco Fire Dept
It's hard to answer because you don't say how you are manipulating data. Simulated string arrays might work, and have been discussed many places. Another solution might use ATARI's unique 'forced-read" mode to print DATA statements containing the necessary information to the screen and then enter the statements into the program. Space prevents us from describing this in full, but essentially you print the information on one line, or several, "CONT" on the next, POKE 842,12, POSITION the cursor at the first line to be entered, STOP the program, and POKE 842,13 as the very next statement after "STOP" in the program. This method is discussed in Educational Software's Tricky Tutorial #1.
Nothing is more frustrating than typing in a program only to have it crash when it is run. A month or two later you find the corrections hidden away in the back of the magazine. I suggest any listings should have a disk or tape submitted with the article. Someone from your staff can run the program and make sure that it is correct.
Gary D. Parker
Rancho Cordova, CA
Programs published in ANTIC are usually submitted on disk or tape, and we always make sure the program runs, though we can't test each thoroughly. When we decide to publish a program, we generate a listing from the tested version on the printer in the ANTIC office. Then we transmit the same file to the typesetter electronically. When we receive the typeset listing, we compare it with our printout. Sometimes we even type the program in again. As a result, most of our listings have been error-free. Mistakes have been made and will be made, but we try our best to assure that our programs run as published.
My husband and I have just bought an ATARI 800 and a 410 cassette recorder. We would be interested in finding out about a mailing list business. Could such a business run efficiently on a home computer? Would there be enough clients to have a nice small-sized business? What type of printer should we use, and how many disk drives? What kind of software should we look for? We have tried to find this information everywhere; libraries and bookstores have been of no help. Do you have any suggestions.
The ATARI 800 is capable of supporting a small mailing list business, but you will surely need a minimum of two disk drives for efficient work. Good, well-tested software is a must. Shop carefully for programs that produce results that you can sell, and make certain the programs work in your situation. You will probably want a good-quality, high-speed printer with a buffer memory, since your printer will determine the appearance of your product and the speed at which you can produce it.